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The nutrient controller's working principle

2023-10-17

A nutrient controller, also known as a hydroponic or dosing controller, is a device used in hydroponic and other controlled growing environments to monitor and maintain the nutrient levels in the growing solution. It ensures that plants receive the right balance of essential nutrients for optimal growth. The working principle of a nutrient controller involves several key components and processes:

  1. Sensors: The nutrient controller is equipped with various sensors that measure parameters critical to plant health, such as pH (acidity/alkalinity) and EC (electrical conductivity, which indicates the concentration of dissolved salts in the solution). Some advanced controllers may also include sensors for temperature and dissolved oxygen.

  2. Measurement: The sensors continuously monitor the pH and EC of the nutrient solution. These measurements are essential because different plants have specific pH and nutrient concentration requirements.

  3. Reference Values: Users input desired target values for pH and EC into the nutrient controller. These reference values represent the optimal conditions for the specific plants being grown.

  4. Comparison and Adjustment: The nutrient controller constantly compares the actual measurements from the sensors to the reference values. If the measurements deviate from the desired values, the controller takes action to bring the nutrient solution back to the optimal conditions.

  5. Dosage Control: Based on the deviations detected, the nutrient controller triggers dosing pumps or solenoid valves to add specific quantities of pH-adjusting solutions (usually acids or bases) or nutrient solutions. This process is designed to bring the pH and nutrient levels back into the desired range.

  6. Feedback Loop: The nutrient controller works in a feedback loop. As the sensors continuously measure the pH and EC, the controller adjusts the dosing of pH and nutrient solutions in real-time to maintain the set values. The feedback loop continues until the measurements align with the reference values.

  7. Data Logging and Alerts: Many nutrient controllers include data logging features that record historical pH and EC measurements over time. This data can be valuable for tracking plant health and making adjustments to the nutrient solution recipe. Additionally, some controllers can send alerts or notifications to the user when significant deviations from the reference values occur.

  8. Calibration: To ensure accurate readings, the sensors of the nutrient controller need to be calibrated periodically. Calibration involves adjusting the sensors' readings to match known reference values using calibration solutions.

By maintaining precise control over the pH and nutrient levels of the hydroponic nutrient solution, a nutrient controller helps optimize plant growth, enhance yields, and minimize the risk of nutrient imbalances or deficiencies. It's an essential tool for maximizing the efficiency and success of controlled growing environments.

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